March 01, 2004

It is Spring! Be Very, Very Cautious

IT WAS FIFTY-SOME DEGREES here in Manchester today; and as we walked out of work, the weather was actually palatable to the point where we and another colleague could actually have a conversation. How wonderful it was after all these wretched months of ice and snow and cold! Yet we also have this sense of foreboding about it ... a sort of wariness, if you will.

We have not seen any geese flying north for the year yet, but we are hopeful that they will soon pass our way; if in fact any do fly over New Hampshire on their journey. It has been a long time since we actually looked up at the sky to check. In any event, Sheila O'Malley has sighted them, however; and she has a nice reflection on that.

This reminiscence has generated a great deal of conversation on her site, and one aspect to that conversation is how the coming of spring-time makes one feel connected to one's ancestors. This naturally led us to thinking, and we realized that our ancestors probably had very ... cautious ... ways of thinking about the coming of spring-time. We offer the following dramatizations as examples:

ALSATIAN NEIGHBOR: The priest says this is the first day of spring.
JOHANNES KOEPPEL: Oh, swell! Spring! Tell you what: you start preparing the shot and the flintlocks, and I'll go round up the townspeople.
NEIGHBOR: You're getting excitable again.
KOEPPEL: I'm not excited, I'm getting prepared. Who do you think it will be this year? The French or the Germans?
NEIGHBOR: I'm sorry?
KOEPPEL: Look, I just rebuilt the barn we spent six weeks raising a few years back! I'm sick of this! Why can't they ... I don't know ... go fight in Flanders or something?
NEIGHBOR: Oh, come off it. It's what, 1642? This war's going to end sometime soon. Besides, we're miles from anywhere ...
KOEPPEL: You just don't get it, do you?

(three decades later ...)

HANS PETER KOEPPEL: Oh! It's spring!
JOHANNES: Great. Son, I run an inn. Now that it's getting warmer, the villagers of Dehlingen won't come here to warm up and buy our high-quality beer and other spirits. They'll get blitzed at home -- that neighbor of yours has a still, I just know it! And what if they start causing trouble and spreading slanderous lies and rumors?
HANS: What! How could such things happen in this year of Our Lord 1673? It's going to be a great year.
JOHANNES: Yeah, well, even still, I've got a bad feeling about this. The way things are going, there's going to be trouble. I have a feeling I'm not going to exactly like 1674, let's just put it that way.

Thankfully, a few years later, our ancestor Johannes Andreas Koeppel was able to make his way to America -- and knowing modern European history as we do, we are truly grateful that he made that decision two-and-a-half centuries ago. Still, we think these dramatizations explain much about how, subconsciously, we view the coming of spring. For while we are glad when it arrives, we are also imbued with an instinctive caution -- which reminds us everything can all go to hell in a moment's time.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 1, 2004 09:11 PM | TrackBack

Hey Ben! Spring greetings from another Kepple - and an Andreas descendant who was very surprised to see some dialog on the internet between her 6th and 7th great-grandfathers! (Exact No. of greats may not be just right but the surprise is). I suspect that there are a far greater number of way of thinking about things - and doing things - that are directly attributable to our ancestors than we consciously realize. I've met a number of Kepple cousins who seem to take similar pathways and methods without ever being aware of what their cousins did. Anyway, I live on Long Island for part of the year and in Western PA for part and have been exploring the genealogical Kepple connections for several years - and have met some interesting - and, of course, genetically similar people. I, too, am intrigued about what happened to Johannes and Walpurg and find myself being careful about with whom I share my knowledge of healing herbs (just one possibility). I'd love to hear from you and learn more about your Kepple connection. I'm Johannes-Hans Peter I-Clemenz-Andreas-Andrew-George-Cyrus Jeremiah-Isaac Newton-Robert Winfield-Robert Clair. If you are Andreas, I have what may be some very interesting Western PA info for you. Let me know - in the meantime, Happy Spring! R.

Posted by: Rhonda B at March 15, 2004 09:39 AM